If Çandarlı is a bit too quiet and Kuşadası noisy, Foça could be just the ticket. Sometimes called Eski Foça (old Foça) to distinguish it from it newer , smaller neighbour Yeni Foça over the hill, Foça hugs twin bays and a small harbour. Graceful old Ottoman-Greek houses line a shoreline crowded with fishing boats and overlooked by a string of restaurants and pensions.
Eski Foça, the ancient Phocaea,was founded before 600 BC and flourished during the 5th century BC. During their golden age, the Phocaeans were great Mariners, sending swift vessels powered by 50 oars into the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas. They were also great colonists founding Samsun on the Black Sea, as well as towns in Italy Corsica France and Spain.
More recently,this was an Ottoman-Greek fishing and trading town. It is now a prosperous middle-class Turkish resort with holiday villas gathering on the outskirts.
Foça is also famous for the rare Mediterranean Monk seals that lurk on the offshore islands ( currently around Siren Kayalıkları and Hayırsız islands in particular), but as there are thought to be only 400 of them left in the world you shouldn't bank on seeing one; they are also very shy.
Orientation & Information
Foça's circular bay is partially divided by a peninsula cutting in from the southeast, dividing the eastern part of the bay into the Küçük Deniz (Small Sea) to the North and the Büyük Deniz (Big Sea) to the south. The Küçük Deniz, ringed with restaurants, is the more picturesque part, while bigger fishing vessels pull into the Büyük Deniz.
The otogar, on the edge of the Büyük Deniz, is just south of the main square. Walk north through the square. B** North thru the square passing the tourist Office the PTT and several banks. After 350 m you will arrive at the bay and the restaurants and just behind them; continue along the right hand (Eastern) side to find the pensions.
For more information on the Mediterranean monk seals, visit Mediterranean Seal Protection Office in the same building as Foça library.
Sights and Activities
Little remains of ancient Phocaea: a ruined theater, remains of an aqueduct near the otogar, and anıt mezarı (monumental tomb), 7 km east of town on the way to the Izmir Highway, and traces of two shrines to the goddess Cybele, one on the hillside on the road to Izmir, the other not far from the Amfitiyatro Cafe.
Recently, the townsfolk made and exciting new discovery near Foça high School. Known as the Temple of Athena,the site was found to contain, among other things,a beautiful griffin and horse's head believed to date the 5th century BC. Excavations continue there every summer
If you continue past the outdoor sanctuary of Cybele you come to a partially rebuilt fortress called Beşkapilar (Five Gates), which was built by the Byzantines and repaired by the Genoese and the Ottomans in 1538-39. Another fortress, the Dışkale ( External Fortress), guards to town's approaches from the end of the peninsula that shapes the southwest arc of the bay. İt's best seen from the water (on a boat trip) as it's inside a military zone
Foça's hamam has separate men's and women's sections.
In summer ( beginning of May to end of September) boats leave daily between 10:30 am to 11:30 am from both the Küçük Deniz for day trips around the outlying islands. Trips cost €8 to €11 (but negotiate prices) and include lunch and water.
Frequent buses connect Foça with Izmir (€3.33, 1.5 hrs, 86 km) passing through Menemen (for connections to Manisa). To get to Bergama, go to Menemen, wait on the highway and flag down any bus heading north.
Three to five city buses run daily from Foça to Yeni Foça (1.95,30 minutes, 25 km); the timetable is in the otogar. These busses also pass the pretty small coves, beaches and camping grounds north of Foça.
If you are staying in the area for a few days you might want to hire a car.